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The Arbor Teas Blog

Tea Term of the Month: "Orange Pekoe"

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The basic term used in grading black tea is Orange Pekoe (pronounced PECK-oh), or OP. The OP designation simply indicates that the tea is a basic leaf grade, without any tips or other distinguishing characteristics.  The word "pekoe" is derived from the Chinese term"bai hao," for white tip, a reference to the white downy hairs found on the buds of the tea plant. The word "orange" has nothing to do with orange flavor or scent, but may be a reference to the Dutch House of Orange, the Dutch royal family in the early days of the European tea trade.  In addition to the OP designation, additional letters are often assigned to describe the leaves' various characteristics.  For instance, the grade of our Assam Black Tea is TGFOP, which stands for "tippy golden flowery orange pekoe."  This indicates that the tea is a leaf grade with a generous proportion of tips.  It is worth noting that this grading scheme is generally reserved for Indian and Ceylon (Sri Lankan) black teas.

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